The next Starship test flight is near by

The Verge

WASHINGTON — As SpaceX prepares for its next Starship test flight, the company is also working to scale up facilities in Texas to build and launch those vehicles.
SpaceX completed a wet dress rehearsal May 20 of the vehicle that will conduct its fourth integrated test flight, filling the vehicle with propellants and going through a practice countdown.
“Starship Flight 4 in about 2 weeks,” Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX, stated on social media after the test.
“Primary goal is getting through max reentry heating.” The Starship upper stage, or ship, broke apart on reentry on the previous test flight March 14.
SpaceX will also need an updated Federal Aviation Administration launch license.
Another SpaceX official said recently that she expected Starship to be ready for launch as soon as the FAA issued the updated license.
Besides the Texas infrastructure, SpaceX has been working on a Starship launch complex at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida.
“We need two launch areas to be able to meet our manifest,” she said, in particular Starship launches for the NASA Human Landing System program.

POSITIVE

WASHINGTON — In addition to getting ready for its upcoming Starship test flight, SpaceX is expanding its Texas facilities to accommodate the production and launch of these aircraft.

May 20, SpaceX finished a wet dress rehearsal of the vehicle that will carry out its fourth integrated test flight. During the rehearsal, the vehicle was loaded with propellant and went through a practice countdown. Prior to SpaceX attempting a launch, that rehearsal was one of the last stages.

Following the test, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on social media, “Starship Flight 4 in about 2 weeks.”. “Getting through maximum reentry heating is the main objective. On March 14, during the last test flight, the Starship upper stage, or ship, broke apart during reentry.

A revised Federal Aviation Administration launch license will also be required for SpaceX. Kelvin Coleman, the associate administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial space transportation, stated during the 39th Space Symposium in April that it was feasible to finish a license modification by the end of May, but he did not indicate that it would be available.

Recently, a different SpaceX official stated that she anticipated Starship to be prepared for launch as soon as the FAA issued the revised license. At an event on May 14 in Harlingen, Texas, Kathy Lueders, general manager of Starbase and a former NASA associate administrator in charge of human spaceflight programs, stated, “We’re still working on licensing with the FAA,” adding that they were “going through a few last-minute crossing of t’s and .ting of i’s.”. “.

“By late May or early June, we hope to have the license,” she stated. “We’re going to fly the moment we receive that license. “.

She spoke extensively about the company’s development of Starbase, where SpaceX manufactures Starship ships and Super Heavy boosters, during her presentation to a local economic group. The site, which is close to the point where the Rio Grande and the Gulf of Mexico converge, employs over 3,000 people a day, including both SpaceX workers and contractors, according to Lueders.

She stated, “To get the facilities ready, we’ve been investing billions in this area.”. “Building at the end of Highway 4 is not an easy task. SpaceX currently spends $11 billion a year at Starbase and other facilities it has in Texas, according to a slide from her presentation. Since the facility’s symbolic groundbreaking in 2014, the company has invested more than $3 billion in Starbase infrastructure. She stated that within the next few weeks, an updated 2021 economic impact report on the business’s operations should be available.

Constructing a massive production facility, called the “Starfactory,” spanning a million square feet, is a top priority. It will replace tents that were previously used to build Starship components. She recalled that Elon had told her a year prior that “this is going to be a permanent location and we need to get rid of these tents.”. Thus, a giga Starship factory will be constructed. The company intends to finish that factory by the end of the year, she stated afterwards.

According to her, SpaceX is building a second high bay and an office building to house the engineering staff at Starbase. Next to the current pad, the company is constructing a second orbital launch pad for Starship.

A Starship launch complex at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida is another project that SpaceX is developing in addition to the infrastructure in Texas. On May 10, the FAA declared that it would begin drafting an environmental impact statement to address updated Starship infrastructure in that area. Meanwhile, the Department of the Air Force is investigating two possible Starship launch sites at nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in parallel.

At a 2022 gathering, Musk proposed that Starbase serve as the “advanced RandD location” for Starship research, with Florida serving as the site of operational launches. However, according to Lueders, there will be chances for Texas and Florida to support Starship missions.

She stated that in order to fulfill the NASA Human Landing System program’s Starship launches, “we need two launch areas.”. “Fifteen tanker launches are needed for a single landing, and they must be completed in a specific amount of time. Compared to other company officials’ previous statements, including an estimate of “ten-ish” launches given in January, that estimate of 15 tanker launches is higher.

“To be able to do the number and the sequencing of missions, we will also need the Florida base,” she said, “but this is going to be our workhorse area.”. “.

She added that she was also working on other issues related to Starbase and how it affected the neighborhood, such as the workers’ quality of life and easing traffic on the main road that leads to the site. “We’re in a critical phase right now,” she said, referring to the talks that are taking place with state and local officials about issues like when traffic lights should be installed on the road leading to Starbase and how to promote the construction of lodging and dining options on the east side of Brownsville, which is the area closest to Starbase.

According to her, there have also been talks about future Starbase infrastructure upgrades, “to have a place for us to be able to conduct business at the end of Highway 4.”. “.

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